The phrase Sugar Tax can be misleading. In fact, “…the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) was nicknamed the “sugar tax” by the media and online when it was announced at the 2016 Budget.” The tax isn’t an outright ban on all things sweet (don’t worry, we’ll keep our hands off your chocolate!), rather, it is an initiative to reduce sugar in soft drinks by imposing a levy.
What is the levy?
The levy is a charge companies will have to pay to the government when they add extra sugar into their drinks. The costs of drinks will not go up for consumers, but rather it is in the company’s interest to reduce the sugar in their drinks, to avoid incurring the charge.
The money raised for the levy, which the Education Secretary Justine Greening estimates to be £415m by 2018-19*, will be allocated to schools for sports, healthy eating and mental health facilities.
Why do we need a “sugar tax”?
Children and adults alike are affected by current obesity issues. At the moment, “…the UK has one of the highest obesity rates among developed countries, and it’s getting worse.” In England, 24.8% of adults are obese and 61.7% are either overweight or obese, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre.** 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2014.***
Lifestyle choices and environmental factors are resulting in the obesity epidemic. In fact, in 2016, NHS research highlighted:
“…in Europe, 1 in 7 (14%) premature deaths could be prevented if people were a healthy weight, rather than overweight or obese. Men who were overweight were more likely to die early than women who were overweight. The study does not prove that obesity causes early death, only that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to die earlier.”****
The sugar tax aims to help consumers to be more aware of their choices. It also encourages producers to tackle the obesity problem by enforcing a charge when extra sugar is included. Backed by organisations like Public Health England and the British Medical Association and campaigners such as TV chef Jamie Oliver, we’ll have to see if these new initiatives can positively impact on the country’s health.